Lessons in the Language of Leadership from the Humble Barcode

 In Collaboration, Leadership, Teamwork

What lessons does the humble barcode hold for the language of leadership?

When you scan your groceries at the supermarket, it’s the barcode that makes it possible. First used on Wrigley’s Chewing Gum in 1974 it has since become the global standard – or common language – for retail systems.

Leaders also need to foster the process of creating common languages to boost collaboration within their teams. If we can’t understand each other, we can’t expect to work together effectively.

It might be about monitoring the use of acronyms and jargon, especially when culturally, geographically or technically diverse project teams come together. It’s also about promoting the use of inclusive language, shifting from “me” to “we”.

It could be about connection. A client of mine in the community sector informed me that their emerging leaders don’t yet perceive themselves as “leaders”, nor do they identify with that term. Easily fixed. We’ll craft the right language that resonates and connects with them.

The humble barcode provides a great lesson in creating a common language and leaders should heed its success. Keep that in mind next time you’re scanning your groceries at the supermarket checkout!

Phil Preston is a collaboration speaker and facilitator. You can stay in touch by following him on Linked Incontacting him directly or using the form below to opt in to occasional emails.

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